The war for talent is heating up — especially in Minnesota.
The state’s job market is tighter than it’s been in years,
with job vacancies reaching levels not seen since the 1990s, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
That’s great news for job seekers — and the state’s overall economic health. But it means businesses like yours must make retention a top business priority, especially when it comes to Minnesota’s high-performing employees.
Workers are already scanning the horizon for new opportunities.
More than four in 10 (42 percent) of respondents said they were likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months, according to new research from Robert Half. Another survey found that more than half of chief information officer (CIO) respondents (55 percent) and advertising and marketing executives (52 percent) are worried about employee retention over the next 12 months.
Of course, you can always fight turnover by boosting salaries.
Given the costs of recruiting and training new staff, higher salaries may make good financial sense. But there are plenty of low-cost ways to retain talent, too. Sure, they take some effort, but probably a lot less than dealing with high employee turnover.
Every employee is unique, but virtually all share a few key concerns.
They want to know that you appreciate them. They want you to treat them fairly. They want to feel challenged and excited by their work. And they want to feel their efforts are leading somewhere bigger and/or better down the road.
With these principles in mind, here are six ways to boost employee retention in any job market.
When we asked executives how they prevent top performers from leaving, the most common responses included regularly checking in with employees about their on-the-job satisfaction and engaging in frequent conversations about performance and career development.
Make employees feel welcome to share their ideas, whether that means suggestions for improving operations or the workplace culture. You don’t have to implement every idea that crosses your desk, but always listen attentively and respond respectfully.
2. Say thank you.
It’s amazing what a little bit of good, old-fashioned Minnesota Nice can accomplish.
Sincerely expressed gratitude can be an incredibly powerful retention tool.
That could mean an award, a plaque, a profile in an employee newsletter, or small tokens of appreciation like gift cards to a local espresso bar or movie theater. But don’t underestimate the value of simply getting up from your desk and walking down the hall to thank someone for a job well done.
3. Instill a sense of pride.
Do your employees feel proud of where they work? According to our research, pride in one’s organization is the strongest driver of happiness in the workplace. In fact, workers who are proud of their organizations are three times more likely to be satisfied at work compared to those who aren’t.
You can start instilling pride by reminding your team members of why your particular business is a great place to work. What do you stand for? Every company is a bit different. Does yours have a commitment to environmental stewardship? For many companies, what they stand for is closely tied to their products or services. Do yours help improve the lives of your customers in a significant way?
4. Support career growth and development.
Too often, both managers and employees dread performance reviews. Yet it’s frequently the only time they sit down and discuss the employee’s career path in a serious way.
Instead of waiting until review time when nerves can be strained, encourage separate, more informal conversations about each employee’s goals for advancement. Try to establish specific milestones and the steps needed to achieve them. Such conversations cost you nothing but a bit of your time, they’re easy to implement — and they can be a surprisingly effective retention tool.
5. Provide training.
Everyone, especially high-performing employees, wants to keep growing and developing in their work lives. Team members who feel like they’re stagnating in their careers are much more likely to look for opportunities elsewhere. Yet professional training is often underappreciated as a retention tool — and one of the first items to get axed when budgets shrink.
Training and development doesn’t have to be expensive. Consider a number of low-cost professional development training options like mentorships, job shadowing and cross training.
6. Make work more convenient.
By giving employees a measure of control over where, when and how they work, you can go a long way in making them happier and more productive. When you help relieve pressures on the home front, your team members are less inclined to jump ship if one of your competitors offers them a little more money.
The most effective flexible work arrangements will vary widely from company to company. However, there are a number of great alternatives, including flextime, compressed work weeks, job-sharing, telecommuting and permanent part-time arrangements.
For example, some local companies offer employees summer hours between Memorial Day and Labor Day, which allows workers to leave an hour or two earlier and maximize outdoor activities, or get a head start on traffic if heading out of town for the weekend.
On the flip side, Minnesota roads can be treacherous during winter and employers may want to consider allowing a certain number of “bad weather days” where employees can work from home when road conditions are unfavorable. These small perks can go a long way to showing employees they are valued and appreciated.
For more on this topic, check out a comprehensive set of strategies to increase retention on the Robert Half blog.
Contact: Angela Lurie is a Minneapolis-based senior regional vice president at Robert Half International: 612.337.5446;